Now in its second year, the Palette Skills Automation and Digital Agriculture Specialist Program is intended as a gateway for much-needed, skilled digital professionals to enter the agriculture sector. The eight-week Digital Agriculture course is funded by the federal government and the Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative. Open to post-secondary graduates with minimum three years of work experience, it includes subjects such as AI, big data, drones, GIS, IoT and robotics.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s (AAF) Green Certificate Program allows senior high students in the province to select an agriculture-focused career path. The program delivers apprenticeship-style agriculture production training that allows students to complete practical work placements in on-farm operations outside school hours.
The agriculture industry faces pivotal challenges, and a new report from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) suggests action is needed. Farmer 4.0: How the coming skills revolution can transform agriculture, details the precarious situation Canadian agriculture finds itself in as it faces a labour shortage, shrinking profits and its slice of global export markets diminishes.
In 1912, Alberta agriculture minister Duncan Marshall announced the province would construct three agricultural colleges. The Vermilion School of Agriculture, later rechristened Lakeland College, opened first. Olds College remain in operation, while the Claresholm School of Agriculture was shut down in the early 1920s.
On June 5, Bill 2, The Growth and Diversification Act, passed its third and final reading in the Alberta legislature. The Act supports the creation of 3,000 tech spaces in post-secondary institutions and the provision of scholarships. Those in the agricultural sector hope some seats will go to smart farming and food production programs, but this isn’t guaranteed.
Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), Alberta Barley, Alberta Pulse Growers and Alberta Canola Producers have teamed up
with the university and Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) to fund positions in agricultural entomology, soil health and a third chair now in development, the details of which have not been announced. Once candidates are hired, matching funding will be sought from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
When you picture life on farm, what do you see? You might think of hayfields or cattle grazing in a pasture. Perhaps images of combines and tractors with seeding implements come to mind. But what about digital field maps, robots milking cattle or farmers using tablets in the field?